10 tips to take your mountain bike filming from amateur to pro
© Duncan Philpott
Mountain biker Veronique Sandler has found fulfilment as a content maker in recent years – her film Vision is a culmination of that work. Watch it here and check her tips on how to make great edits.
Mountain bike movie Vision is a visual treat of stunning locations, mind-blowing riding and top mountain bike riding talent. The creative force behind Vision is New Zealander Veronique Sandler, a former World Cup downhill racer, who stepped away from racing to purse a simpler side of her sport. Vision is the story of her journey to bring a dream mountain bike freeride line at Revolution Bike Park in her adopted home of Wales to life.
Sandler has been riding in and making her own edits/clips for a few years. Vision seemed to be a natural step to take things long-form.
“For years, me and my mates would just go out riding and film each other on our phones," she says. "I guess that over time I’ve had so much content from doing that, that it shows people that I’m really passionate about what I do and that if I had the opportunity to do a big project – like Vision – I would fully commit to it. It’s about doing what you love."
Sandler had support from sponsors adidas and Five Ten to bring Vision to life but what if you’re a budding freerider, mountain biker or videographer without a big budget and high tech kit who wants to get creative with riding and filming?
Read on below as Sandler shares the knowledge she’s gained from making shredits small scale and large, with all the key advice you need to create some killer edits.
1. Have a vision
I’d come up with a few ideas and the main one – my favourite one – was me going somewhere and digging a few jumps, filming the process then filming me hitting them after. The idea snowballed from there! I guess the vision was the idea to have something that was going to be really fun to ride and not just for me; I was keen to have somewhere that people could experience themselves. Every time I go to the Vision line at Revolution Bike Park, there are people sending it and that puts a smile on my face.
2. Build a team, or just grab a friend
Trying to film yourself on your own is super hard – believe me I’ve tried it! It’s hard to get your phone in a position that has the right angle and doesn’t fall over and captures enough of your riding. The ultimate recipe is to have even just one friend out with you. If they’re a rider as well, you can go out for a ride and take turns to film each other. You’ll both get some cool content and experience behind the lens.
3. Have a plan
When I’m filming longer edits, I’ll have locations in mind and I’ll have an idea of what I want to do on certain jumps or how I want to hit certain turns. I like having that locked in my head so I don’t waste the videographer's time just wandering around a mountain hitting random things that don’t work. With a plan, you get the filming smashed out quicker.
For Instagram, I don’t like to work that way. If you say ‘today I’m going to go here and do this’ quite often it doesn’t work out and that can get frustrating. I’ve worked out it’s better just to go for a ride. I always have my phone on me, and that way if I hit a turn halfway down you can get to the bottom and say ‘oh, that was sick’ then go back up and film it at the end of the ride. That also takes the stress out of worrying about performing for social media too.
4. You don’t need high-tech kit
I’ve never had any kit, only my phone, and up until about a year ago I hadn’t filmed with a videographer that had lots of kit. It doesn’t matter too much these days. If you film on a phone you can still get awesome content, and it doesn’t have to be cinematographic style stuff – I actually like the more rugged style of filming.
Just doing it is what’s important. The more time you put in, the more stoke you have for what you’re doing and the more content you create, the better you get.
5. Team work makes the dream work
I always like to say that the filming part is the videographer's job and the riding part is mine, so I never want to interfere or tell them where they should be standing or how they should be filming something – they are way better at that than I am! As long as I ride something the best that I can, they’ll shoot it the best they can, and we’ll come out with a great shot.
6. Give yourself time
If I’m trying to do a trick or hit something, I’m pretty pedantic about my own riding, so if I’m not doing it as well as I’d like I’d much prefer to stay there for hours and hit it over and over and over to get it right, because I know otherwise I’ll look at the video and think ‘I’m still not happy with how I rode that!’.
And it goes both ways. The videographer can be the same, because sometimes it can take them just as long to figure out how they want to shoot something.
7. Choose kit that will look (and feel) good
If it's winter and you're wearing all black kit and you’re filming in the dark woods, the videographer will be like ‘what are you doing?! I can’t see you in any of the shots!’ And for filming in one location where the background always stays the same, it is cool to wear something that contrasts with it.
I like to wear things that make me feel steezy; if I’m wearing something that I feel will look cool on the bike then I ride better, and I’m lucky that adidas make some cool stuff so I have a range of things to pick from.
8. Vary your locations and demonstrate your skills
All my favourite edits have been filmed in the UK, so you don’t have to go to an exotic location – I think it’s almost better to have it somewhere local that people can relate to. I think that motivates people to go out and ride because they feel they can do a similar thing. You can go to your local woods and film some really cool stuff, and that’s something anyone can do.
I think it’s good to film on some different features, too, so if you’re filming a load of turns or some steep technical stuff then add a couple of jumps into the mix to give the video a bit of variety, and also show that your skill set is pretty wide and that you can do all sorts of things – plus it’s more exciting to watch! If that’s all in close proximity then that’s fine, you can get really creative on smaller features and you don’t have to travel for miles to make a cool video.
9. Get your mates involved
One of my favourite parts of Vision was having the best time ever riding on the Vision jump line with Brendon Fairclough, Casey Brown and the other riders. Before that I’d never really filmed with a big crew before and after Vision I was like ‘this is the dream! I want to do more!’
Filming on your own is great but even having one other person there riding with you brings up the stoke levels so much more. Crew edits are awesome, or even just two people riding – it’s fun while you're riding, and it’s great to watch on a video because there is so much more going, like riders with different styles that complement each other.
10. Spread the word
For people who want to make an edit and get it out there, social media is the best way to share it and for me, Instagram is the best. You can reach so many people if you have content you’re stoked on, and that radiates out – people will see it and share it!